A 36-year-old woman from Kerala has claimed that she entered the Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala on Tuesday. The police and the state government have not yet confirmed her entry into the temple.
SP Manju, the president of the Kerala Dalit Mahila Federation, told Asianet News on Wednesday that she arrived at Pamba at 4 am on Tuesday, and entered the temple by climbing the 18 sacred steps around 6 am. A video posted on the Facebook page of Navothana Keralam Sabarimalayilekku on Wednesday showed Manju standing on the premises of the temple. She is seen dressed in black attire and with grey hair and carrying the irumudikettu (sacred offerings). Manju told The New Indian Express that she had dressed as an elderly woman and covered her face partially while entering the temple.
Manju said she made the trek alone and did not seek police protection. She said members of Navothana Keralam Sabarimalayilekku, which is associated with the entry of women into the temple, had helped her. The group posted on Facebook that she offered prayers at the temple around 7.30 am on Tuesday and returned to Pamba by 10.30 am. “She has challenged all anti-woman Brahminical traditions,” it said.
In a note to the temple’s chief priest, the group said it had been 24 hours since Manju entered the temple. “Either perform pujas to the deity that has lost its divinity and apologise to lakhs of devotees or apologise for conducting purification rituals after two young women Bindu and Kanakadurga entered the temple.”
Manju had attempted to enter the temple in October when the shrine was opened after the Supreme Court allowed women of menstruating age to enter the temple. Police, however, had stopped her at Pamba base camp.